The week of Valentine’s Day, when everything is draped in red, pink, and white, hearts and flowers and cupids plastered everywhere, romantic love is full on in the spotlight is the perfect time to point out that despite what society tells you, romantic love is not the pinnacle of the love hierarchy.
Actually, there is no love hierarchy. There are many different kinds of love and no one kind is better than another.
Society and the media would have you believe that romantic love is the end all when it comes to love, the tip top of the love pyramid. And it can be great, don’t get me wrong. I, myself, enjoy romantic love and would love to have more of it in my life. But I think it’s important to have all kinds of love in your life. No such thing as too much. As such, no one kind of love can be better than another. But most people have been conditioned to place romantic love on a pedestal anyway.
Familial love, platonic love, love for humanity…it all can have a place in people’s lives and it’s silly to think that one kind of love is somehow better than another. But even within those categories of love, we still try to create some kind of ranking system.
The love between a married couple is somehow greater than the love between an unmarried couple.
The love of a mother for her child is somehow the greatest love of all familial love, over any love a father can give to a child or siblings can have for each other. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins…they all fall a very distant second. Hell, a mother’s love is even considered superior to romantic love. Sorry, spouse.
Platonic love is probably one of the lowest ranked love categories because the love of friends is nice, but not as important as a family member or spouse. Even then, though, we have best friends and just friends.
I think the societal insistence of these love perceptions aggravate and antagonize issues that people can have when it comes to their relationships. Why do you think so many people would choose a bad relationship over no relationship at all? The messaging is that there’s something terribly wrong about being single, that being alone is something to avoid at all costs. Even if it means settling for someone you only marginally tolerate and being somewhat baseline unhappy all the time. At least you’re not alone, right? Yeah.
Or what about his idea of a mother’s love? Now, I’m not knocking the love a mother has for a child, but let’s face the reality that not all mothers’ love is created equal. There’s this weird idea that you have to forgive your mother for everything simply because she’s your mom and that it’s the child’s responsibility to heal all of those wounds. Compound this with the substandard mother’s love that some children end up receiving, and it’s no wonder people develop relationship issues. If a mother’s love sets the standard and the standard set is toxic…well…there’s not much of a happy ending here.
Likewise, the people who hold the love of blood relatives over friends. The found family trope resonates with people for a reason. Those folks stuck with toxic blood find a blessing in the relationships with the friends they choose, only to be told that this is somehow less than the less than family they have. It festers a guilt about attachments. About loving your friends more than your family. About loving your chosen family over your blood one.
Obviously, people can and do overcome these issues, but think of how much easier it would be if they didn’t start with these inaccurate concepts of weighted love values. If we treated all love as being equal, then that’s one less issue to reconcile when working on our relationship wounds.
And maybe we’d get to place where we could enjoy our relationships more.
After all, it’s only love.